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On the evening of January 13, 1888, thirty-three men traveled on foot, horseback, and in horsedrawn carriages through the streets of Washington to the Cosmos Club, then on Lafayette Square across from the White House. They convened around a large mahogany table to discuss “the advisability of organizing a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” The entity they were about to create would become the largest nonprofit scientific and educational institution in the world.